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What is the fixed-rate cliff and how can refinancing help?

You’ve probably heard the term “fixed-rate cliff” bandied about in finance news feeds. But what is it? And if you’re about to head over it, how can you prepare for a soft landing?

A staggering 880,000 fixed-rate loans are set to end this year, and when they do, many Australian households will be facing significantly higher mortgage repayments.

That’s because the variable interest rates now on offer are much higher than the fixed rates locked in years ago.

So today we look at what this so-called “cliff” might mean for your budget and how you can reduce the impact by refinancing.

But first, why is the fixed rate cliff looming in 2023?

Before 2020, fixed-rate mortgages equated to about 20% of total Australian home loans.

But during the pandemic, the RBA dramatically slashed the cash rate to a record low of 0.10%, and many savvy Australians pounced on the opportunity to lock in a low interest rate in early to mid-2021 for two to three years.

This saw 2021 fixed-rate borrowing basically double to 40% of total Australian home loans.

However, as with all good things, the low rate times came to an end.

Since May 2022, the RBA has hiked the official cash rate back up to 3.60%.

Those on fixed-rate loans have had a reprieve, until now – with 880,000 mortgage holders set to start rolling off their fixed rate throughout 2023.

And CoreLogic warns “the pain will be felt most acutely from April” this year.

What effects can a fixed rate cliff have

According to CoreLogic data, a mortgage holder who took out an average-sized loan of $538,936 with a fixed rate of 1.98% could see their repayments increase by over $1000 per month when rolling over to a standard variable rate.

Those who locked in 2020/2021 interest rates that hovered around the 1.75 to 2.25% range will be transitioning to interest rates as high as 5 to 6%.

That’s an increase greater than the 3 percentage point minimum interest rate buffer that lenders use to assess the serviceability of home loan applications.

How to refinance (properly)

When a fixed-rate loan period ends, lenders often don’t roll existing clients over to the best rates they have on offer.

The most attractive interest rates are usually reserved for new customers as an incentive.

But by refinancing with another lender you can access lower introductory rates, which can potentially save you thousands of dollars in repayments over time.

Working with a broker like us can take the stress off your shoulders when navigating the end of a fixed rate period.

We’ll use our vast network of lenders to zone in on suitable loans and lenders that are right for you.

And importantly, we’re (happily) bound by a best interests duty.

So while banks and digital lenders might try to tempt you with cashback offers for loan products that may not really be in your best interests (due to fees, high interest rates, and other undesirable loan terms), we’ll only ever try to match you up with lenders and loans that are in your best interests.

Get in touch

Is your fixed-rate cliff looming?

Get in touch today and we’ll get to work on finding you great refinancing options to soften the landing.

And if the landing is still looking a little bumpy, we can help you explore some additional options, such as increasing the length of your loan and therefore decreasing monthly repayments, debt consolidation, or helping you identify ways to build up a bit of a cash buffer in the meantime.

Whatever your situation, the earlier we sit down with you and help you make a plan, the better we can help you manage the transition.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute tax or financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without prior written consent.

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